I was talking with a friend on Twitter tonight, and she asked me if I had written about my experiences. Indeed, I have not. I've spoken of them to many people, but I think it's high time I write them down here. This is going to be a heck of a read, so sit back and have a pumpkin ale.
My first remembered experience was when I was about seven years old. My parents had taken me to the Whaley House in Old Town, San Diego. I don't recall exactly what the hell happened in there, on the second floor, but I do know I ran down the stairs, screaming, and out of the house. I guess there's a vortex at the top of the stairs in there. I don't know. All I know is that I remember smelling something strange, and I almost fell down the stairs in my haste to get out. My parents were scared to death, thinking that I was being attacked by someone. Someone? Something?
I probably had several things happen over the next several years that I don't think really "hit me" in the way that did... and I was way too young to know what was really happening.
When I was in college (the first time), I dated a guy named Dave. We went to stay with his aunt and uncle in the middle of frickin' nowhere in central California. They owned this ancient farmhouse in the middle of a field, with a pond and forest about a quarter-mile away. There was an old train station nearby, too, which wasn't in service anymore. The whole place reeked of energy. I can still feel it now.
We were sleeping the first night, with Dave beside me and his younger sister sleeping on the floor at the foot of the bed. I woke up, suddenly, freezing cold. The room was pitch black except for the glow of the moon coming in the window. Although it was winter, I wasn't cold from the house being cold. This was a different cold. This was "something is in here right now" cold.
I was frozen. I couldn't move. Do you have those dreams in which you just can't move no matter how hard you try? Like that.
Then, in my ear, I heard "Calm. Be calm. Calmer... calmer..."
I knew, knew, that if I turned over, I would see her in the full-length mirror next to me.
Her name, it turns out, was Judith. She lived in that house during the early 1900's with her husband. One day she came home to find her husband in bed with the servant-girl. She pulled out a rifle and shot them both.
Dave's aunt told me this the next morning, when I told her why I hadn't slept all night. Evidently she was much the same as I, and would see and hear things around the house. She had researched the story herself a couple of years back, and told me that she had actually found a photo negative in the wall when they were renovating the kitchen. They had the photo developed, and it was of a woman holding a rifle. Judith's eyes were incredibly dark... not just shade, but full of hurt.
As of now, I kind of feel bad that I hadn't been strong enough to listen to her. I asked her to go away, that I was scared, and I hid underneath the sheets, shivering, for the rest of the night.
I had a few other things happen in the next few years... one time I tried on a jacket that had belonged to the grandfather of a friend, and I immediately felt as if I was having a heart attack. It turns out that his grandfather had died suddenly of a heart attack. I saw shadows in his grandmother's house, and felt as if I was being followed, like someone wanted to talk to me but didn't know how. I didn't know how, either. I felt as if this was the grandfather, though, just curious as to who I was.
Years later, I went back to the Whaley House with a friend. I was a little wary of this, because twenty years earlier, I had been scared out of my mind. I tried to keep an open mind, and went into the building.
I was standing in the doorway between the storefront and courthouse, when I felt as if someone was sitting on my chest and choking me all at once. I couldn't get any breath at all, and I felt as if I was locked in a very dark and claustrophobic freezer. I backed up, in panic, thinking "Oh my God, it's happening again." This time, it was someone very tall, and he was angry. He was so angry. I retreated into the hallway, ready to run again. What the hell was going on with me that I was getting attacked in this house?! My friend was blissfully unaware, flipping through photo albums in the courthouse.
I stood against a wall, panting, in the hallway. It was a rare day where there were few visitors in the house, so I was alone. Tears were about ready to spill out of my eyes... I was scared, I was confused, I was unsure.
And then I felt it....
A cool, "clear", tiny airy hand wrapped itself around the fingers of my right hand. I followed this drafty, childlike kindness up the stairs to the landing overlooking the area in which I had been hiding in the hallway. There were three of them here, all below waist-height. White, blonde, blue ribbons, were images that I was receiving. The hand disappeared, but the immediate peace I felt was long-lasting. I felt as if I had been taken to a safe place.
I am forever grateful to these little ones. I went back a few months later to thank them, but they weren't there - at least not to the point where I could "see" them. Maybe it's because there were so many more people in the house. Maybe I didn't have the clarity I needed that day. I still whispered my thanks in case they were listening.
After speaking in private with the docent there, I learned a few things. My first name is the same as one of the Whaley daughters, who died in the house at an advanced age. I also learned that there were several Native American staff members back in those days, and the docent said that visitors in the house of Native American blood would often have experiences. With me having Cherokee heritage, the docent believed that the spirits picked up on that and acted upon it. She also said that there were a few other people who had had the choking feeling. Upon further research, I learned that a gentleman named Yankee Jim had been hung on site, however he choked to death instead of having his neck snap immediately.
Was I feeling his anger? What he went through as he choked so slowly and painfully? Did those children think that I was one of their previous staff members and pulled me to safety? So many questions.
I will leave it here for now... I continue to hear and feel and see shadows. I am followed sometimes, but by nothing frightening. There are times where I can "hear" them, in my mind, much like I heard my Grandmother silently telling me that she was "going now", when she passed away. I am sometimes startled, but I am not afraid of them.